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Wildland Adventures Giving Back

Giving Back

Wildland Adventures was founded on the principle that culturally and environmentally responsible travel can be a powerful force for change. Tourism should contribute to conservation and benefit local communities. The Travelers Conservation Trust (TCT) was founded in 1986 by Kurt Kutay as a non-profit, affiliate program of Wildland Adventures to foster means by which our travelers can support local conservation initiatives and small-scale community development projects. By forming and strengthening links between environmentally conscientious travelers and host-country grassroots conservation groups, together we can preserve natural areas and cultural heritage. This link between adventure travel, conservation and sustainable development enhances your vacation experience by creating more meaningful and authentic cultural encounters through learning, sharing and giving something back. 

ORIGINS

The Travelers Conservation Trust [TCT] was established in 1986 as a nonprofit affiliate program of Wildland Adventures, a worldwide nature and culture adventure travel company.

MISSION

TCT identifies and supports community-based development projects and conservation initiatives that sustain ecological integrity, protect biodiversity, support cultural heritage, and contribute to the social and economic well-being of local people. Many projects are carried out with volunteer assistance of Wildland Adventures staff, our travelers, guides and outfitters, and local residents in collaboration with in-country NGOs.

Culturally and environmentally responsible tourism can be a powerful force for conservation and community development. Since 1986, the Travelers Conservation Trust has collaborated with public and private sectors creating partnerships between local communities, conservation NGOs, local governments and the tourism industry to demonstrate how travelers can contribute tangibly, directly and significantly to global environmental conservation and human welfare at a local level in less developed regions of the world.

PROJECTS

Our success over the years demonstrates how local-level models of conservation and community development supported by ecotourism programs do change lives while protecting natural and cultural heritage. Projects not only help local communities but increase goodwill between hosts and guests and stimulate authentic cross-cultural interactions. By educating travelers to be more sensitive and conscientious guests, TCT provides an alternative to exploitative and destructive elements of conventional tourism.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL

The opportunity to enhance one's personal travel experience by learning, sharing and making a contribution can be the inspirational purpose which guides travelers exploring the world. Through the sensitive design and operation of our trips, the participation by travelers in local TCT projects and their support of local conservation organizations, we encourage more environmentally responsible travel. By assisting local communities and demonstrating a concern for the value we place on ecological and cultural preservation, ecotourism can become an instrument of sustainable development. The active and compassionate involvement of our travelers and our volunteers, at a minimum, heightens our own awareness of problems and the practical difficulties in solving them. Further, through direct employment and payment of fees, and our interest in conservation and native cultures, it demonstrates the value of ecotourism, conservation and cultural preservation to local people thereby creating an interest in stewardship among communities.

FUNDING

Unlike many charitable efforts, we do not engage in general fund raising efforts. Participants on Wildland Adventures-sponsored trips and alumni of past trips are invited to contribute funds to local conservation organizations and community-based projects through their land cost and generous contributions. Field projects are monitored through the worldwide offices of Wildland Adventures and its agents which contribute in-kind services.

ECOTRAVELERS AS CONSERVATIONISTS

Acting on the belief that ecotourism is more than just visiting parks and natural areas, Wildland Adventures has taken steps to formalize the link between environmentally concerned travelers and host country grass roots conservation groups working to preserve natural areas and assist indigenous communities. Participants on many Wildland Adventures are invited to become international members of a local conservation organization or to support a community development project identified in advance by the Travelers Conservation Trust. Wildland Adventures simply adds an optional $25-$50 line item on each traveler's invoice as a voluntary contribution which the company then donates in its entirety in the name of each client as an individual membership in the local conservation organization or donor of a project. Many Wildland Adventures trips include visits to sites where active preservation or community development projects are underway.

Through contributions from Wildland Adventures and our travelers, we have raised thousands of dollars in an attempt to strengthen the efforts of worthy local conservation groups with the support, membership and financial contributions of world travelers who benefit from improved environmental protection programs. Organizations have been selected which are actively involved in conservation and cultural heritage work in the field especially those that also produce an English language newsletter. This way participating travelers can make a contribution that goes directly to the field and subsequently they receive an update after their trip about the conservation issues they have helped support in the country they recently visited.

TYPES OF PROJECTS

Projects supported by the TCT fall into several classes. Some are designed and supervised by overseas guides in areas where we conduct our trips such as our Scarlet Macaw Tikal Trek, a joint project with Conservation International. Other projects have involved direct participation of foreign travelers. Our Inca Trail Preservation Trek helped maintain the ancient Inca path to Machu Picchu when there was no management by the government. Our Human Warmth Project collects warm clothing and shoes from friends and participants for distribution to needy recipients in remote mountainous areas of the Andes and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Donated items are transported as checked baggage and sent to remote areas with hiking groups. Family groups are invited to contribute children’s clothing, back packs, school supplies and learning toys during visits to schools and local orphanages such as Casa Main in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Casa del Milagros, Urubamba, Peru, or to bring teaching materials for local schools in the Andes and Africa.

All Wildland Adventures trips support indirectly a variety of projects including many that do not involve travelers in actual hands-on efforts. Some of the past and ongoing beneficiary organizations and projects are listed below.

RECIPIENT ORGANIZATIONS AND PROJECTS, PAST AND PRESENT

CENTRAL AMERICA


  • Neotropical Foundation, Costa Rica: Land conservation and community-based ecotourism training, National Park Ranger Fund
  • ANCON-Association for the Conservation of Nature, Panama: Environmental education and wild land conservation
  • Programme for Belize, Belize Audubon, and Ix Chel, Belize: Wildland preservation and management, support of a traditional Maya healing center, Mayan ecotourism lodge materials in Toledo, Mayan community support in housing and health care.
  • Maya Works, Guatemala: Support of indigenous micro-enterprise of traditional artisan work

AFRICA


  • Endangered Wildlife Trust, South Africa: Wildlife preservation and land conservation initiatives
  • East African Wildlife Conservation Society, Kenya: Wildlife preservation and land conservation initiatives
  • African Wildlife Foundation: Wildlife preservation and land conservation initiatives throughout Africa
  • Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition, Kenya/Tanzania: Water well projects, wildlife conservation, land rights initiatives, and indigenous microenterprise development including a Maasai Women’s Bead Co-op, scholarships and school building projects, human rights issues, anti-hunting and wildlife conservation programs.
  • Friends of Tanzania Orphans: Promoting Orphans' Health and Education in Olasiti Village, Arusha Region, Tanzania

SOUTH AMERICA

  • Friends of the Peruvian Rain Forest, Peru: Land acquisition for conservation near Manu Biosphere Reserve
  • Parpacalle Community Development Project, Peru: Construction of a community learning center for students in remote Quechua village
  • Machu Picchu Sanctuary Project, Peru: Restoration and protection of archaeological ruins damaged by tourism on the Inca Trail, Peru
  • Friends of Galapagos, Ecuador: Environmental education and conservation in the Galapagos Islands, feral species eradication, Galapagos National Park management support
  • IGTOA-International Galapagos Tour Operators Association: Wildland Adventures was a founding member and major contributor to IGTOA, a collection of tour companies dedicated to conservation and sustainable tourism management
  • Conservacion Patagonia, Chile and Argentina: Protecting and restoring wildland ecosystems in Chile and Argentina by formation of new national parks

ASIA and PACIFIC


  • 10,000 Tigers Campaign, India: Sponsoring a guide training program for local communities surrounding national parks in India
  • Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Borneo: Travelers contribute to and visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) to learn about efforts to protect and preserve the world’s smallest and most elusive bear species from both habitat destruction and the exotic pet trade in Southeast Asia.
  • Forest and Bird, New Zealand: Environmental education and land conservation in New Zealand

NORTH AMERICA


  • Alaska Geographic: Environmental education and land conservation in Alaska

YOUR INVOLVEMENT

The best way to get involved is to join a Wildland Adventure. All Wildland Adventures help support worldwide conservation and community development projects. For the project we are currently supporting in each destination, refer to the Giving Back link in the More tab of each itinerary.